Up in the Air: The movie of THIS year
George Clooney’s official campaign for the Oscar has begun. The man who seemingly gets better with age has turned in arguably the best performance of his already illustrious career. Up in the Air is the story of Ryan Bingham (Clooney) and his joyless career as a corporate downsizing expert. The job carries with it the devastating task of delivering the news to workers that they are no longer needed at the company to which they have dedicated most of their lives. Using real-life employees to fulfill the roles of those being terminated, Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking) presents the audience with some of the most heartfelt moments in recent cinema. The pertinence to today’s society, when seemingly every company is downsizing, makes this not only the “Best Picture of the Year,” as it was recently voted by the National Board of Review, but it makes it the movie of this year. Reitman paints a portrait of a man who must face common people and deliver what is more than likely the worst news they will ever receive.
Aside from exploiting the harsh realities of the terrible working climate, Up in the Air is also a movie of finding yourself in the vast sky of life. Bingham’s job naturally requires a great deal of traveling, and he is on a personal quest to become just the seventh person to ever reach ten million frequent flyer miles. However, it is only when he is closest to this milestone that he begins to realize the emptiness that this way of life brings. Insert Alex, a fellow frequent flyer who uses her trips as an ‘escape’ from reality. It is his relationship with Alex, along with the fast-approaching wedding of his sister (who he barely even communicates with) that forces Ryan to begin to reevaluate his life.
Up in the Air is a triumph for all parties involved. Reitman presents his most mature picture to date, and the two actresses, Vera Farmiga (Alex) and Anna Kendrick (Natalie, a co-worker of Ryan’s who tags along on a trip in hopes of learning the ropes of the job) both deliver Oscar-worthy performances. Though it deserves all of its recent critical praise, the most important thing to be said about Up in the Air is that it is the first truly “must-see” movie in a very long time. It tells a story that needs to be told at a time when no one else will tell it. And as for Clooney? Don’t be surprised to see him walking the Red Carpet in March.
Up in the Air comes out everywhere Christmas Day.